We just came off a fantastic time way out in the West of Ireland where we were taking part in a Youth Weekend run organised by one of the churches my wife and I work with. We had a really great weekend living with an amazing bunch of young people, worshipping with them and coaching them on how to begin to change their life’s story by recognising and taking control of the elements of their stories that are negative and which ultimately cause harm, like the limiting labels we put on ourselves and other people and replacing them with the empowering and uplifting images of ourselves that God gives us.
After over thirty years of ministry with all ages, Grace and I count it such a privilege to still have opportunities to be with and speak into the lives of young people. Just being around them was refreshing…if not just a little bit on the exhausting side. I mean, I have no idea how people can stay awake for so long?! But that’s all part of being on a youth weekend and we wouldn't have it any other way.
We have such a responsibility to inspire our young people and children. I heard about Jesus when I was a kid and eventually committed my life to Him when I was a teenager. And one of the crucial reasons…and I really do mean crucial…reasons why I decided to really follow Jesus, was the infectious enthusiasm for Him that I saw in the people who were in the local church I would eventually become a part of. In that place I heard stories of how following Jesus had really changed people’s lives. And Jesus does! He really does change lives…for the better!
Never underestimate the power of enthusiasm.
I used to be in sales and was taught that if I wasn’t enthusiastic about any product or company I was representing, then I couldn’t expect anyone else to be. And that simple principle can be transferred into any environment. Passionate people make passionate people, because passion is infectious and our young people and children need to have passionate, enthusiastic adults in their lives: people who are dedicated to o Jesus with life such giving energy that they are the kindest, most loving, daring, inspiring exciting people to be around.
In fact we all need to be around these kind of people!
I’m not talking about fervently “religious" people. You know…the kind of people whose lives appear to revolve around a set of rules and regulations and whose God given mission appears to be to tell you off for not wearing the appropriate colour of hoodie to church or who always seem to carry a mini tape measure so they can check the height of your hair. No. Avoid them at all cost! I’m talking about people who talk about Jesus like He actually is all there is and who live they just can’t be without Him. People who spend considerably more time being positive than the pedlars of paltry complaints and general negativity. The kind of people who can inspire us to follow Jesus with ALL our heart, mind, body and spirit.
And we if we don’t know anyone like that…then we must find them! We should do all we can to find them and be around them. Find them in our towns or cities. Find them online or in books. We must do all we can to find them and be around them!
We’re all affecting each other in one way or another and more and more my prayer for my own life is to become one of those types of people who, after you have been with them you feel better about yourself and God. I want to spread a God loving enthusiasm! I want to carry enthusiasm for God and Jesus like a virus that spreads to people without me having to do anything other than just be with them.
I believe our children and young people need great role models. But to be a great role model takes awareness. Awareness of ourselves and our potential for lethargy and life draining negativity instead of a life giving love and passion for God and all the people that we share this wonderful God given planet with and every day we have to remind ourselves that we have the power and ability to choose enthusiasm…and the more we choose enthusiasm, the more we will become people who ARE enthusiastic, especially about our faith in Jesus.
So let’s go get some God enthusiasm and let the kids what it means to be like Jesus and shine!